Todd Gurley plans to wear No. 21 with the Atlanta Falcons whenever the upcoming season begins.
Still, the running back says the decision was not a result of Deion Sanders’ blessing.
During an Atlanta radio interview on Friday, a host asked Gurley whether he got permission from Sanders to wear the number that “Prime Time,” as Sanders is nicknamed, wore for the team during the first five seasons of his Hall of Fame career.
“Prime was hatin’ on me. He told me don’t wear it,” Gurley said.
When asked why Sanders refused, Gurley responded, “Cause it’s Prime. If I was Prime, I wouldn’t want nobody wearing my number either.”
However, cornerback Desmond Trufant also wore No. 21 for the Falcons over the past seven seasons. Atlanta released him earlier this offseason.
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Gurley wore the No. 30 during his first five NFL seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, who cut him on March 19.
The 25-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Falcons a day later. He had 70 touchdowns and 7,494 yards during a Rams tenure that included three Pro Bowls.
He wore the No. 3 at the University of Georgia.
When asked during the interview if he would consider also wearing that number in the pros, Gurley said, “Unfortunately the way the NFL works, that’s not going to happen. That’s going to be the last thing that happens, trust me.”
Per the NFL’s rules, a running back’s uniform number must be from 20 to 49.
Although the Falcons do not retire numbers, the Ring of Honor pays tribute to certain players. To that end, Sanders was honored in the 2010 class.